Tewksbury gives anti-casino push a nudge
Tewksbury gave the percolating casino gambling repeal movement some momentum this week. In what had become a raucous debate in the Merrimack Valley town, one featuring bar fights and disappearing lawn signs, anti-gaming forces prevailed at a special town meeting Tuesday night.
Residents voted down a zoning change that effectively killed a $200 million slots parlor proposal. More than 60 percent of the people who attended the meeting voted against the plan, which required a two-thirds majority for passage.
The Tewksbury vote marks the second defeat for Penn National Gaming in Massachusetts. In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno selected MGM Resorts International over Penn National to run its casino should the city get the nod from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Only one slots parlor can be built in the state under the gaming law. Slots proposals are also on the table in Raynham, Milbury, and Leominster.
The town’s slot opponents reeled in some well-known local names to help defeat the plan, including former state senator Sue Tucker of Andover and Rep. James Miceli who represents the town. Miceli voted to expand gaming, but has qualified that vote saying that gaming belongs in cities that need an economic jolt, not small towns.
The group’s earlier petition drive failed when Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled the proposal unconstitutional since a law related to appropriations cannot be dialed back by referendum.
This time the attack is coming from a new direction. The current petition drive aims to place a question on the November 2014 ballot that would make games typically associated with casinos illegal in Massachusetts.
In addition to Tucker, Somerville Mayor (and potential gubernatorial candidate) Joe Curtatone, Kris Mineau, head of the Massachusetts Family Institute, Kathleen Conley Norbut, president of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, and Steve Abdow, a member of the Springfield anti-casino group, were among the 10 people who signed the petition. Petitions will be certified by September 4.
Then the real work would begin. If the attorney general approves the petition, Repeal the Casino Deal has to get over the signature-gathering hurdles to get to the ballot. If the question does prevail on that front, its proponents would have to hope for a titanic shift in voter sentiment. Most Bay State residents supported opening up the state to casino gambling.
State Rep. John Keenan, often criticized for defending Salem’s existing coal plant and the natural gas plant proposed to replace it next year, puts solar panels on his roof, the Salem News reports.
Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, up for reelection, nominated 27 people to fill vacancies at agencies and commission, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The nominees include the mayor’s receptionist, the head of the firefighters union, a secretary in the city planning department, the son of the city’s personnel director, and the wife of the deputy police chief, who has been on paid leave since he was indicted on corruption charges.
The chairman of the Danvers Board of Selectmen discloses that both his wife and daughter are working for the school department, the Salem News reports.
Scituate selectmen rejected a proposal for a cell tower near an elementary school playground after parents expressed their concerns over health threats.
Fairhaven residents are bracing for a 24 percent hike in water and sewer rates after the Department of Revenue determined the town’s general fund was subsidizing the system in violation of state law mandating water and sewage departments be self-sufficient.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria goes on NECN’s Broadside to talk about the casino competition between his city and Boston.
The NSA has the ability to monitor up to 75 percent of US internet traffic.
Boston mayoral candidate John Connelly gets an earful about his decision to accept a $500,000 pledge from Stand for Children. Paul McMorrow explored the issue in yesterday’s Download.
In their own words: Find out where the Boston mayoral candidates stand on an appointed, elected, or hybrid school committee. CommonWealth has the transcript.
The five Democrats running for Ed Markey’s old House seat sign a pledge designed to keep outsider advertising out of the race, the Associated Press reports (via WBUR).
Twitter doesn’t have pollsters running scared, writes Steve Koczela of the MassINC Polling Group.
The New York Times chews over the delicate path Chris Christie is treading, somewhere “between reasonable Americans and those in his party who believe that people should have the freedom to buy weapons but gays should not have the freedom to marry.”
The Times editorial page cheers the GOP’s apparent retreat from a threatened government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.
At least two of the candidates for mayor in Brockton said social service agencies located downtown are hurting development, making the city a “dumping ground” for homeless people.
The Boston Globe argues that Mayor Tom Menino isn’t making a great case for giving developers tax breaks for the Filene site.
School enrollment around the state has dropped about 3 percent in the last decade with a few communities bucking the trend. Officials project another decline of about 30,000 more students by 2020.
The Swansea School Committee voted to allow home-schooled children to play on school sports teams and participate in other district extracurricular activities.
An elderly Weymouth woman became the first person in the state to die this year from EEE and officials are trying to determine where she was infected. Hanover officials have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on outside activities until the first hard frost to kill mosquitoes.
State officials say their electronic tolling system will save an estimated 3,600 gallons of fuel per day, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs into law a bill raising the speed limit on some interstates to 70 mph, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Federal officials have approved the sale of the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant in Somerset over objections by environmental groups.
A veteran environmental official in Ohio says he is being forced to resign by the governor after pressure from the coal industry, the Dayton Daily News reports.
Another environmentalist reacts to a CommonWealth report on the cost of renewable energy, noting that electric bills overall have been going down, not up.
Scientists tag a second great white shark in Cape waters.
CRIMINAL JUSTICEThe number of people charged with drug crimes based on evidence tested by Annie Dookhan rises to 40,000, State House News Service reports (via CommonWealth). Red Mass Group wonders if the Dookhan case puts a spotlight on the need to end the war on drugs, a question CommonWealth raised earlier this year in our look at the scandal.
A Boston Herald editorial rips Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan for her office’s unwillingness to hold Jared Remy, pending a dangerousness hearing. The paper damns Ryan by praising one of her predecessors, Tom Reilly. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker calls for an independent review of the Jared Remy case.